Burford, the Gateway to the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is one of Britain’s most picturesque places located in south central England about 800 square miles in land area and comprises a range of rolling hills that runs through five counties — Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire.  It is the favourite country retreat of the rich and famous — Kate Moss, Kate Winslet, Elizabeth Hurley, Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron and many other prominent figures in Britain own a Grade II-listed country pile in this part of the country.  Continue reading

A Journey to Britain’s Northernmost Isle (3rd of 3 Parts)

Our visit to Shetland was precipitated by a friend’s invite for Jared and I to explore the islands. He told us that we will see the northernmost tea shop, northernmost police station, northernmost bus stop, northernmost hotel — practically everything northerly, and boy, was he right! We’ve seen everything northerly in the British isles when we visited the tiny island of Unst. To get to the island, we took the ferry for about half an hour (the car was loaded on a ferry) to an island called Yell and then on to another ferry for 45 minutes to Unst. What completed our trip was the visit to these islands. Continue reading

A Journey to Britain’s Northernmost Isle (2nd of 3 Parts)

This is the second post in a 3-Part series. Read the 1st Part here.

Shetland may be remote and wild; but it is an oil rich country and the public infrastructure is one of the best in the UK. Despite its small size, only 1,468 sq km, and a relatively small population, just over 23,000, the Shetland Islands Council is the richest in Britain with £266 million in reserve — thanks to the oil industry revenue. Continue reading

A Journey to Britain’s Northernmost Isle (1st of 3 Parts)

It is an odd place, Shetland. I had never heard of it until a good friend of ours informed Jared and me three years ago that he bought a holiday home here. He’s been making frequent trips to Shetland since the 70s, and been inviting us to visit and explore the islands. Continue reading

The Window Tax of Yore

 

Since time immemorial the ruling elite of this country have contemplated how best to fund the armies that protect the empire, maintain the roads and infrastructural needs of the country, and finance various public expenditures.  Taxation has always been the answer but in different forms. Once upon a time, just about 400 years ago, it was the humble window that was taxed.  Continue reading

Nostalgia

This time last year we were billeted at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel before we returned to London, and I meant to write a review of our visit but life gets in the way, and other plans happen. I finally got to finish the draft I wrote last year. 

sofitelphilplazahotel25They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So when it comes to a hotel, the lobby needs to be the showpiece. As such, when I enter a hotel I always observe every detail in the foyer so I don’t entirely miss the impressive entrance hall they have so cleverly crafted.  Continue reading

The Only Surviving Extravagant Private Palace of Victorian London

I am delighted to have had the opportunity to visit Lancaster House, an historic building in London, a couple of weeks ago. The tour guide, an employee of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), took us around and after exploring the stately home I said to him, “Wow! This is a vibrant piece of living history. What a shame that the Crown Estate do not open this magnificent mansion to the public.” He explained that this is the only government building that’s used for conferences and other official functions, and as such it would not be easy to keep its door open to the public. I told him that if Buckingham Palace can manage to open some of the state rooms to the public during the summer months then surely the government can do the same thing when the FCO is resting from its gruelling diplomatic functions. Continue reading

Blenheim Palace Gardens

During our visit to Blenheim Palace three weeks ago we saw some of the finest examples of England’s artistry.  From the tapestries and paintings hanging on the walls to the exquisite furnishings and the grandiose ceiling — everything is a work of art and shows the skills of the artists and craftsmen who made an indelible mark at the Duke of Marlborough’s palatial home. Continue reading

Blenheim Palace: The Grandest Private Residence that outshines the British Monarchy’s Homes

There’s more fascinating tale about Blenheim Palace than just being the birthplace and ancestral home of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  This place is steeped with formidable history and is far superior in grandeur and magnitude than any of the royal palaces in the country.   Continue reading

Memories of a Tropical Paradise

We were in the Philippines from mid-January to mid-February of this year and it was a great blessing to be in the tropics to get away from the freezing cold London weather.  Our third week was spent at Club Paradise in Palawan, one of the best tropical destinations in the country.  Thanks to our very generous benefactor for giving us this exceptional gift. (Thank you L&P 🙂 ) Continue reading